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Sunday, 22nd April 2018

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The Tories are failing on promise to be “the greenest government ever”

It is People and Planet’s Go Green Week this week and climate week is just over a month away. Matt Stanley from Mid Kent College explains below that now is the time for us to take radical action on pollution and climate change.

When the Tory-led government took power in 2010 they promised us ‘the greenest government ever’, but time and time again they have failed to take action on the key issues. From attempting to cut solar feed-in tariffs to handing tax breaks to the most polluting industries in the country, the Tories seem more concerned by the profits of big businesses and energy companies than the real issues of social justice.

Every year around 350,000 people die as a result of climate change, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. Whilst delegates were watering down measures to tackle climate change in Durban last year, famine was sweeping across Somalia following a series of droughts in East Africa. Time after time our government has failed to recognise that those who have done least to cause this crisis – the poorest and most vulnerable, are suffering the most.

This, however, seems to be the central theme of this government, which is determined to punish ordinary people for a crisis they did not create. Whilst thousands of workers are laid off the government hands out tax breaks to big business under the guise of ‘creating jobs’. In reality workers will see little benefit and the only winners will be bosses and big energy companies.

Things are little better in London, where Boris Johnson has almost entirely undone the work of former mayor Ken Livingstone aimed at tackling pollution and emissions. Boris has cancelled the C02 charge for gas-guzzling cars, delayed the introduction of stage 3 of the Low Emission Zone, and has overseen a pollution epidemic which his own figures show has lead to over 4,250 early deaths in London every year. Yet despite these shocking statistics Boris continues to lead London down a reckless and dangerous route. Instead of prioritising low-cost green or hybrid transportation, Boris has poured over £11 million into a new vanity bus scheme. Not only will this do little to address the capital’s pollution crisis, but it will end up costing ordinary Londoners in increased fares.

The government has suffered some humiliating defeats on environmental policy (most notably losing an appeal in January over solar feed-in tariffs). With People and Planet’s Go Green Week this week, and Climate Week also fast approaching the time for serious action to reverse the destructive influence of the Tory-led government is now. Whilst events like Climate Week have slowly become more and more corporate (Climate Week is now delivered ‘in partnership’ with Tesco and EDF energy) there is still room for inspiring activism which takes environmentalism back to the key issue of social justice.

Students’ Unions and People and Planet groups across the country will be running campaigns, with a national day of action planned on Friday 10th February. We need to make our voices heard and demand a Green New Deal, based on social justice and a new alliance of environmentalists, unions and industry, focusing on investment in renewable energy and environmental transformation. Take action this week and demand a fairer future.

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